chapter  3
20 Pages

Analyzing Discourse

ByJonathan Potter, Margaret Wetherell

The label ‘discourse analysis’ has been applied in very different ways in the social sciences, and before attempting to explicate discourse analysis as a method it is important to be clear what we mean by it. There are at least four types of work that have commonly been described in this way. The first is influenced by speech act theory and directed at a systematic account of the organization of conversational exchange in settings such as classrooms (e.g. Coulthard and Montgomery 1981). The second is much more psychologically orientated, focusing on so-called discourse processes; for example, the effect of discourse structure on recall and understanding (e.g. van Dijk and Kintch 1983). These two kinds of work are very different from the line of work we will discuss in this chapter, which has much closer links with strands three and four.